Were you or a loved one blinded due to negligence or malpractice?
When a person is born blind, they have many challenges in life that they must overcome. However, an upside to being born without sight is that it takes little to no adjustment because there is no reference to what was lost. A child born blind has never known life with sight, and therefore they have no loss to overcome.
On the other hand, adults who suffer unexpected blindness caused by an accident or injury must endure a catastrophic effect on essentially all aspects of their life. Many accident victims progress through the various stages of grief as a result of the vision loss, and they might go through the grief process again and again with each decrease in vision. Additionally, they will require special assistance and accommodations as their condition progresses.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury that resulted in your blindness or loss of sight, we invite you to contact our Atlanta personal injury law firm to find out what your rights are. While no amount of financial compensation can make up for your loss, we can ensure that you and your family are financially taken care of so that you can focus on the new normal.
Contact Scholle Law today for your free consultation.
The importance of vision and limits of other senses
Without vision — the dominant, integrating sense — one must overcome a loss of confidence and learn how to trust the other senses. There is no magic compensation from the remaining senses; the ability to trust the other senses relies upon increased concentration and training.
Sight allows us to know what is in front of us without the assistance of other senses. When sight is lost, so is orientation, causing the individual to lose a sense of where they are, as well as who or what is around them. Hearing can provide some information, but only if the object in front of us emits a sound. Sound is helpful, but it echoes off objects and is not as localizing or specific as vision.
Touch, on the other hand, depends on the length of an arm. Without sight or peripheral vision, people and objects just suddenly appear. Since the brain is receiving less stimulation, objects may not be where they were expected to be.
How loss of vision impacts an individual’s life and work
Many people fail to understand that blindness is not necessarily darkness, but rather a loss of light. The vast majority of legally blind people have functional vision, and many others can still perceive light. Individuals who are totally blind since birth — the few who have never experienced light perception — must rely on the word of others who say they live in “darkness.” Adults with low and deteriorating vision are often terrified of the likely event of total blindness.
A person with recently impaired vision may suffer a loss of mobility, causing them to be afraid to move around their own homes — let alone in public or in a workplace. They may lose their sense of freedom, security and control in their environment, and feel very dependent on others.
The individual may no longer be able to enjoy some of the leisure activities they enjoyed in the past, and their ability to develop new hobbies could be limited by age, depression and other factors. The inability to perform household tasks can be a daily reminder of their disability and limitations, leading to repeated frustration. Any pre-existing depression could worsen as a result of sight loss and impact the person’s ability to benefit from rehabilitation services. This may, in turn, impact their quality of life.
Gestures and facial expressions are important aspects of spoken communication and are lost to blind individuals. For the visually impaired, it may become difficult to keep up with what’s going on in the world, in the community or among friends. This can result in the feeling that their world is becoming smaller.
In addition, loss of vision often has detrimental effects on one’s profession and career, as sight is an important part of many jobs. Personal identity is often tied to work and a person may suffer from a void of time, lack of intellectual stimulation or social contact, and a reduced sense of accomplishment when they are unable to work due to vision loss.
Getting assistance for individuals suffering from loss of vision
Extensive orientation and mobility training can help improve a blind person’s travel independence and safety. However, the likelihood of achieving even moderate independence might be limited by a fear of falling and balance issues. All available training should be provided because it may reduce fear, while age and other health conditions contribute to a poor prognosis.
Attendant care and transportation assistance may be required in order for the individual to get to doctor appointments, go shopping, and engage in everyday activities such as cleaning, cooking and managing finances. Home management training may also be required to improve independence. The individual should be given every opportunity to try to develop the necessary skills since even a small success in 1 area can lead to increased confidence with other tasks of living with the condition.
For example, the individual’s quality of life might benefit significantly if they can learn how to use a computer without sight as it will provide independence, such as shopping online and surfing the internet. Of course, age and a person’s mental health may impact their motivation to learn to use a keyboard without sight or text-to-speech software, but the opportunity to develop the skills should be encouraged.
Some individuals who have lost their sight move in with other family members. While this can be mutually beneficial, moving may result in significant challenges to individuals with visual disabilities, as they have no visual memory as a reference. New surroundings can be disorienting, confusing, and frustrating, and will likely increase feelings of depression. A vision rehabilitation specialist can help set up a home by marking appliances, organizing the pantry and training the individual to become oriented in the home, yard and neighborhood.
Common causes of blindness
The leading causes of blindness include complications of diabetes, macular degeneration, infectious disease of the cornea and/or retina, traumatic injuries and — as in the case of a Scholle Law client — medical malpractice.
Our client, a Gwinnett County woman named Rosalind, suffered permanent injury to her eyes during a 2014 spinal operation when the chemicals used for skin sterilization leaked into her eyes. The surgery required the patient to be placed in a prone position, meaning she was lying face down. She went into surgery with normal vision and following surgery she was unable to see.
The case went to trial in May 2019. The experts who examined her testified that the damage occurred while she was under anesthesia when members of the surgical team failed to properly secure and check the protective tape placed over her eyes during surgery. The damage to her eyes remained undetected until after surgery. By the time the injury was discovered, she was blind with no hope of improvement.
After a week of testimony and 8 hours of deliberation, the jury awarded our client a verdict of $14 million. The case is currently pending appeal by the defendants.
Consult our Atlanta personal injury attorneys for your free consultation
Were you or a loved one blinded due to negligence or malpractice?
At Scholle Law, we understand how gravely loss of vision can impact you and your family physically, emotionally and financially. With this knowledge and our 20 years of experience, we can fight on behalf of you with an unwavering commitment. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients in personal injury verdicts and settlements. We are fierce advocates for accident victims and their families.